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Flashback Friday—Revenge of the Body Bags

Jun 19, 2009, 11:06 AM EST

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I put up a Redskins Chronicle excerpt from the 1990 season up on the website and this game has drawn a few comments. About two months before this first-round playoff game the Eagles had physically whipped the Redskins, beating them 28-14 in a game that was not nearly as close as that score would indicate. The loss dropped the Redskins to 5-4 and their playoff prospects were dim.

A 5-2 finish got them in and, as luck would have it, their playoff draw had them returning to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium. The Redskins got their revenge.

1/5/91

Redskins 20, EAGLES 6

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10

10

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20

Phil

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6

Phil

FG Ruzek 37

Phil

FG Ruzek 28

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Monk 16 pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick)

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FG Lohmiller 20

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FG Lohmiller 19

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Clark 3 pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick)

 

In their Monday night game eight weeks earlier, the Redskins got physically crushed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the “Body Bag” game. That was bad enough, but the Eagles chose to rub it in their faces, taunting and trash talking until the final gun on the field and in the locker room afterwards.

Sometimes, things just fall into place. Washington qualified for the playoffs as a wild card entry, and the seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest. They would have their shot at revenge.

When facing the press in the days prior to a game, Gibbs was usually overly gracious in his comments about the opposition, making a 2-10 outfit sound like the ’60’s Packers and their coach the second coming of St. Vincent. Not this week, though. When asked about Ryan, Gibbs stood stone-faced and talked about the challenges ahead.

One reporter caught Gibbs in an unguarded moment. It was January 3, the day before the game. Snow had fallen on New Year’s Eve and the journalist noted that the snow still covered Gibbs’ car in the parking lot at Redskins Park. In the hallway, the more Gibbs talked about Buddy, the madder he got. “I live to play a game like this one. I live to play this guy,” Gibbs said, turning red-faced with rage. While this was hardly headline material or Eagle bulletin board fodder, it was very telling of the mood of the coach and team. They were clearly
on a mission as they entered the Vet for the game.

It took them a quarter to get untracked as Philadelphia got two FG’s for a 6-0 lead, but the defense stiffened after that, sacking Eagles QB Randall Cunningham five times and forcing three turnovers. Mark Rypien threw two scoring passes and Ernest Byner and Gerald Riggs shared the rushing duties and combined for 94 yards on the ground.

A turnover reversed by replay was the game’s turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Byner’s grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. Cornerback Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent touchdown. Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short field goal and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles’ offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

During a players-only meeting in the week before the game, the team had made a pact that they would not sink to the level of Philly and deliver “I told you so’s” to the classless Eagles after the game. But the message was delivered to Buddy and his losing team after the game with a certain degree of subtlety.

Clark said, “You’d better not question someone’s character unless you’re sure of the character you’re talking about. This team has character, and hopefully this is just one step.”

“People threw dirt on this team all year but they didn’t know we had shovels and would keep digging our way out,” Coleman added.

  1. Va to Ca - Jun 19, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    CHIP!!!!!!!!!!! I remember that very well….still can't stand Philly and their getting booed when they come out to San Diego to play..excited this year I get to boo Philly and cheer on the Skins when they come to SD….

  2. Kirby - Jun 19, 2009 at 4:59 PM

    And the corrollary to this game: Buddy Ryan was fired right afterward…how sweet it was!

  3. fastwb - Jun 19, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    It was definitely sweet revenge. The "Body Bag" game is the reason I still hate the Eagles and have to pause a moment before answering which NFC East team I hate the worst. Before that, the answer was easy and immediate: the Cowboys.

  4. Anonymous - Jun 20, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    the eagles, and the late andre waters, were consistently the dirtiest team we faced year in and year out.
    ryan was a bully, and grossly overrated as a game day coach.

    his son appears to be following the same boorish trajectory, calling out porter..

    shally

  5. Aidan - Jun 20, 2009 at 8:29 PM

    I drove up to Philly for that game, dressed in full Redskins gear (including those ridiculous tiger print Zumbas). After the game, we went to see the team get on the bus. I couldn't believe how huge Lohmiller was, and how "small" Manusky was. What great memories! We were leading the chant… Budddd-dyyyyy, Buddd-dyyyyy. Classic

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